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5.1.1. General introduction
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This section provides a brief introduction to a number of more general issues concerning finite argument clauses. We begin with a brief discussion of the syntactic functions that argument clauses may have. This is followed by some remarks on their form, with special attention to the position of the finite verb and the form of their complementizer. We then investigate the anticipatory pronominal elements that can be used to introduce finite argument clauses. We conclude this introduction with a brief discussion of free relatives, which are sometimes also analyzed as argument clauses.

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[+]  I.  The syntactic function of finite argument clauses

Finite clauses regularly occur as arguments of verbs: they can be used as subject, direct object or as part of a prepositional object. Indirect objects are normally nominal, which seems related to the fact that they typically refer to living entities or institutions, not to propositions. The examples in (8) show that argument clauses are normally placed after the verbs in clause-final position. The reason for calling the embedded clause in (8c) a prepositional object and not a direct object is that it cannot be pronominalized by means of the pronoun het, but must be replaced by the pronominal PP erover. The properties of the three types of argument clauses in (8) will be discussed in greater detail in Sections 5.1.2 to 5.1.4.

Example 8
a. dat duidelijk is [dat Marie de nieuwe voorzitter wordt].
subject
  that  clear  is   that  Marie the new chairman  becomes
  'that it is clear that Marie will be the new Chair.'
b. dat Jan niet gemeld heeft [dat hij weg zou zijn].
direct object
  that  Jan not  reported  has   that  he  away  would  be
  'that Jan hasnʼt reported that he wouldnʼt be there.'
c. dat Peter klaagt [dat het regent].
prepositional object
  that  Peter complains   that  it  rains
  'that Peter is complaining that it is raining.'
c'. dat Jan erover/*het klaagt.
  that  Jan about.it/it  complains
[+]  II.  The form of finite argument clauses

Finite argument clauses normally take the form of an embedded clause, that is, a clause with the finite verb in clause-final position, as in the indirect reported speech example in (9a). Possible exceptions to this general rule are found in the direct and semi-direct reported speech examples in (9b-c), in which the apparent dependent clause appears in main clause order, that is, with the finite verb in second position. For this reason cases of direct and semi-direct speech deserve special attention and they will therefore be discussed separately in Section 5.1.2.4.

Example 9
a. Jan zei [dat hij Marie ging bezoeken].
indirect reported speech
  Jan said   that  he  Marie  went  visit
  'Jan said that he was going to visit Marie.'
b. Jan zei: "Ik ga Marie bezoeken."
direct reported speech
  Jan said    I  go  Marie visit
  'Jan said: "Iʼm going to visit Marie".'
c. Jan zei hij ging Marie bezoeken.
semi-direct reported speech
  Jan said  he  went  Marie  visit
  'Jan said he was going to visit Marie.'

Examples (10a&b) show that declarative argument clauses are obligatorily introduced by the complementizer dat'that', that is, unlike English that, Dutch dat cannot be omitted. Example (10c) further shows that Dutch also differs from German in that it does not allow embedded clauses without a complementizer and with verb-second; see Haider (1985) for a discussion of verb-second in embedded clauses in German and Barbiers et al. (2005: Section 1.3.1.8) for a number of Dutch (especially eastern) dialects that may also have this construction. Observe that example (10c) is acceptable as a case of direct reported speech, but this is, of course, not the reading intended here.

Example 10
Declarative argument clauses
a. Jan zegt [dat Peter ziek is].
with complementizer
  Jan says   that  Peter  ill  is
  'Jan says that Peter is ill.'
b. * Jan zegt Peter ziek is].
without complementizer and without V2
  Jan says  that  Peter  ill  is
  'Jan says Peter is ill.'
c. * Jan zegt [Peter is ziek].
without complementizer and with V2
  Jan says  Peter  is ill

Interrogative argument clauses are introduced either by the complementizer of'whether' or by a wh-phrase. In speech (but not in written language) it is also common that the wh-phrase in embedded wh-questions is followed by a complementizer: the complementizer of is used in the northern, whereas the complementizer dat is more common in the southern varieties; some (mainly northern) speakers even use the combination of dat; we refer the reader to Barbiers (2005: Section 1.3.1.5) for details on the geographical distribution of these options; see also Hoekstra & Zwart (1994), Sturm (1996) and Zwart & Hoekstra (1997) on the question as to whether of dat should be analyzed as a compound or as two separate words.

Example 11
Interrogative argument clauses
a. Jan vraagt [of Peter ziek is].
yes/ no-question
  Jan asks  whether  Peter ill  is
  'Jan asks whether Peter is ill.'
b. Jan vraagt wie (of/dat) er ziek is.
wh-question
  Jan asks  who  whether/that  there  ill  is
  'Jan asks who is ill.'

If two embedded yes/no questions are coordinated by means of the disjunction of'or', as in (12a), the complementizer of the second clause does not occur as of but as dat in order to avoid a sequence of two (homophonous) occurrences of of. That this is a surface phenomenon is clear from the fact illustrated in (12b) that the second complementizer must be realized as of when we replace the disjunction of by the more formal disjunction dan wel'or'; see Haeseryn et al. (1997:547).

Example 12
a. Ik weet niet [of hij nog komt] of [dat/*of hij thuis blijft].
  know  not  whether  he  still  comes  or  that/whether  he  home  stays
  'I donʼt know whether heʼs still coming or whether heʼll stay at home.'
b. Ik weet niet [of hij nog komt] dan wel [of/*dat hij thuis blijft].
  know  not  whether  he still comes  or  whether/that  he home stays
  'I donʼt know whether heʼs still coming or whether heʼll stay at home.'

There is a small set of cases in which what would seem to be an argument clause is introduced by the conjunction als'if/when'; cf. Haeseryn et al. (1997:1136&1153). The primeless examples in (13) show that such als-clauses are especially common in constructions with a subject/object experiencer, although the primed examples show that the experiencer may also remain implicit; observe that het functions as an anticipatory pronoun associated with the als-clause. To our knowledge als-clauses of this type have received little attention in the literature so far, and, in fact, it remains to be demonstrated whether they do indeed function as argument clauses in these cases; this is why Section 5.1.2.2, sub IV, investigates them in more detail.

Example 13
Argument clauses introduced by als'if/when'?
a. JanExperiencer waardeert het [als je hem helpt].
subject experiencer
  Jan  appreciates  it   if  one  him  helps
  'Jan appreciates it if you help him.'
a'. Het wordt gewaardeerd [als je hem helpt].
implicit experiencer
  it  is appreciated   if  you  him  helps
  'Itʼs appreciated if you help him.'
b. Het irriteert me [als je zingt].
object experiencer
  it  annoys me  when  you  sing
  'Your singing annoys me.'
b'. Het is irritant [als je zingt].
implicit experiencer
  it  is  annoying  when  you  sing
  'Your singing annoys me.'

      It is important to observe that the distinction between declarative and interrogative embedded clauses is formal rather than semantic: the embedded clause in (14a) is called declarative despite the fact that we are clearly not dealing with an assertion, and the embedded clauses in (14b&c) are called interrogative despite the fact that we are not dealing with true questions. Notwithstanding this, we will simply accept the traditional terminology.

Example 14
a. Jan vermoedt [dat hij ziek is].
declarative clause
  Jan suspects   that  he  ill  is
  'Jan suspects that heʼs ill.'
b. Jan betwijfelt [of hij op tijd zal aankomen].
yes/ no-question
  Jan doubts  whether  he  on time  will  arrive
  'Jan doubts whether heʼll arrive in time.'
c. Els onderzoekt [wie het boek gestolen heeft].
wh-question
  Els investigates   who  the book  stolen  has
  'Els is investigating who has stolen the book.'
[+]  III.  The anticipatory pronominal elements het'it' and er + P'P + it'

The examples in (15) show that finite argument clauses may be introduced by an anticipatory pronominal element (given in italics), which appears to the left of the clause-final verbs.

Example 15
a. dat het duidelijk is [dat Marie de nieuwe voorzitter wordt].
subject
  that  it  clear  is  that Marie  the new chairman  becomes
  'that it is clear that Marie will be the new Chair.'
b. dat Jan het niet gemeld heeft [dat hij weg zou gaan].
direct object
  that  Jan it  not reported  has   that  he  away  would  go
  'that Jan didnʼt report it that heʼd go away.'
c. dat Peter erover klaagt [dat het regent].
prepositional object
  that  Peter about.it  complains   that  it  rains
  'that Peter complains about it that it rains.'

The distribution of anticipatory pronominal elements is rather complex: Sections 5.1.2 to 5.1.4 will show that in many cases it is optional, but there are also cases in which it must or cannot occur. In addition, the presence or absence of the pronominal element may affect the syntactic behavior of argument clauses: example (16b), for instance, shows that object clauses only allow wh-extraction if there is no anticipatory pronoun; see, e.g., Bennis (1986:ch.2)

Example 16
a. dat Jan (het) zei [dat Peter een nieuwe auto gekocht had].
  that  Jan   it  said  that  Peter a new car  bought  had
  'that Jan said (it) that Peter had bought a new car.'
b. Wati zei Jan (*het) [dat Peter ti gekocht had]?
  what  said  Jan     it   that  Peter  bought  had
  'What did Jan say that Peter had bought?'

If the anticipatory pronominal element is optional, its presence may trigger a somewhat different reading: sentence (16a) without the pronoun het presents the proposition expressed by the embedded clause as new information; (16a) with the pronoun, on the other hand, presents the embedded proposition as old information and adds to this that Jan was the source of the information. In cases such as (17), the presence of the anticipatory pronoun may trigger a factive reading of the object clause: example (17a) simply presents the proposition expressed by the embedded clause as new information, which may or may not be true, whereas (17b) presents this proposition as familiar truthful information.

Example 17
a. Jan heeft me gisteren verteld [dat hij decaan wordt].
  Jan has  me  yesterday  told   that  he  dean  becomes
  'Jan told me yesterday that heʼll become dean of the faculty.'
b. Jan heeft het me gisteren verteld [dat hij decaan wordt].
  Jan has  it  me  yesterday  told   that  he  dean  becomes
  'Jan told me yesterday that heʼll become dean of the faculty.'

A similar contrast can be found in the passive counterparts of the examples in (17) in (18): the impersonal passive with the expletive er'there' in (18a) presents the proposition expressed by the embedded clause as new information that may be true or false, whereas the personal passive with the anticipatory subject pronoun het'it' in (18b) presents it as familiar and true; see Haeseryn et al. (1997:1138) for similar intuitions. A more detailed description of the distribution of expletive er'there' and the anticipatory subject pronoun het'it' will be provided in Section 5.1.3, sub III.

Example 18
a. Er werd me gisteren verteld [dat hij decaan wordt].
  there  was  me yesterday  told   that  he  dean  becomes
  'I was told yesterday that heʼll become dean of the faculty.'
b. Het werd me gisteren verteld [dat hij decaan wordt].
  it  was  me yesterday  told   that  he  dean  becomes
  'I was told yesterday that heʼll become dean of the faculty.'

The question as to whether a factive reading arises is, however, more complex than the examples in (17) and (18) suggest. Examples (19a&b) show that regardless of the presence or absence of the anticipatory pronoun, the truth of propositions expressed by clausal objects of typically factive verbs like betreuren'to regret' will normally be presupposed by the speaker, whereas the truth of propositions expressed by clausal objects of a typically non-factive verb like beweren'to claim' will normally be left open. It is only with neutral verbs like vertellen'to tell', which can be used both as factive and as non-factive verbs, that the presence of the anticipatory pronoun het will normally trigger the factive reading.

Example 19
a. Jan betreurt (het) [dat Marie ontslagen is].
factive
  Jan regrets   it   that  Marie fired  is
  'Jan regrets (it) that Marie has been fired.'
b. Jan beweert (het) [dat Marie ontslagen is].
non-factive
  Jan claims   it   that  Marie fired  is
  'Jan claims (it) that Marie has been fired.'
c. Jan vertelde me [dat Marie ontslagen is].
non-factive
  Jan told  me   that  Marie fired  is
  'Jan told me that Marie has been fired.'
c'. Jan vertelde het me [dat Marie ontslagen is].
factive
  Jan told  it  me   that  Marie fired  is
  'Jan told it to me that Marie has been fired.'

Because the semantic effect of the anticipatory pronoun het is sometimes difficult to pinpoint even with neutral verbs like vertellen, we will not digress on this issue and leave further investigation of it to future research.
      Observe finally that the frequency of the anticipatory pronoun het is much higher with typically factive verbs like betreuren'to regret' than with non-factive verbs like beweren'to claim'; neutral verbs like vertellen'to tell' take up an intermediate position. This is shown in Table (20) by the results of a Google search (12/9/2011) on the strings [ V-t (het) dat] and [ V -de (het) dat].

Example 20
The realization of the anticipatory pronoun het'it'
  anticipatory pronoun present anticipatory pronoun absent
factive betreurt het dat ...
regrets it that
1.300.000
81 %
betreurt dat ...
regrets that
300.000
19%
  betreurde het dat ...
regretted it that
112.000
72 %
betreurde dat ...
regrettedthat
42.400
28 %
non-factive
beweert het dat ...
claims it that
120.000
9%
beweert dat ...
claims that
1.250.000
91 %
  beweerde het dat ...
claimed it that
15.600
3%
beweerde dat ...
claimed that
548.000
97 %
neutral
vertelt het dat ...
tells it that
360.000
22%
vertelt dat ...
claims that
1.290.000
78 %
  vertelde het dat ...
told it that
162.000
48 %
vertelde dat ...
told that
174.000
52 %

[+]  IV.  Free relatives

Haeseryn et al. (1997) assume that argument clauses may also take the form of free relative clauses. The reason is that we are clearly dealing with non-main clauses functioning as arguments. That we are dealing with non-main clauses is easily recognizable from the fact that the finite verb appears in clause-final position; that we are dealing with arguments is clear from the fact that free relatives may function as subject, direct object and part of a prepositional object.

Example 21
a. [Wie dit leest] is gek.
subject
  who  this  reads  is crazy
  'Anyone who reads this is crazy.'
b. Jan prijst [wie hij bewondert].
direct object
  Jan praises   who  he admires
  'Jan praises whoever he admires.'
c. Jan wil wachten [op wat Els te zeggen heeft].
PO-object
  Jan wants.to  wait   for  what  Els to say  has
  'Jan wants to wait for whatever Els has to say (about it).'

The question we want to raise here, however, is whether free relatives exhibit the behavior typical of argument clauses. There may be good reasons for answering this question in the negative and for assuming that free relatives are nominal in nature. The first reason is that they normally refer to entities and not to propositions. This would also account for the fact that free relatives can readily be used as indirect objects, whereas declarative and interrogative argument clauses cannot.

Example 22
a. Jan gaf [wie erom vroeg] een gesigneerde foto.
  Jan gave   who for.it asked  a signed picture
  'Jan gave a signed picture to anyone who asked for it.'
b. Jan gaf een gesigneerde foto aan [wie erom vroeg].
  Jan gave  a signed picture  to   who  for.it  asked
  'Jan gave a signed picture to anyone who asked for it.'

Secondly, the examples in (23) show that free relatives may occur in the argument positions in the middle field of the clause, which are normally not available to declarative and interrogative argument clauses.

Example 23
a. dat [wie dit leest] gek is.
subject
  that who  this  reads  crazy  is
  'that anyone who reads this is crazy.'
b. dat Jan [wie hij bewondert] prijst.
direct object
  that  Jan   who  he  admires  praises
  'that Jan praises whoever he admires.'
c. dat Jan [op wat Els te zeggen heeft] wil wachten.
PO-object
  that  Jan   for  what  Els to say  has  wants.to  wait
  'that Jan wants to wait for whatever Els has to say (about it).'

Thirdly, the examples in (24) show that the use of the anticipatory elements het and erop is impossible.

Example 24
a. * dat heti gek is [wie dit leest]i.
subject
  that  it  crazy  is   who  this  reads
b. * dat Jan heti prijst [wie hij bewondert]i.
direct object
  that  Jan it  praises   who  he  admires
c. * dat Jan eri op wacht [wat Els te zeggen heeft]i.
PO-object
  that  Jan  there  for  waits  what  Els to say  has

Fourthly, the examples in (25) show that extraposition of the free relatives only yields an acceptable result if they function as direct objects. Not also that the prepositional object clause may only be in extraposed position if it pied-pipes the preposition, although this would normally give rise to a marked result with finite prepositional object clauses; cf. ??dat Jan wacht op dat Els iets zegt'that Jan is waiting for that Els says something'.

Example 25
a. ?? dat gek is [wie dit leest].
subject
  that  crazy  is   who  this  reads
b. dat Jan prijst [wie hij bewondert].
direct object
  that  Jan praises   who  he  admires
c. dat Jan <*op> wacht <op> [wat Els te zeggen heeft].
PO-object
  that  Jan      for  waits  what  Els to say  has

The behavior displayed in examples (22)-(24) is what we attribute to nominal but not to clausal arguments. The only fact that is perhaps not immediately expected is that free relatives functioning as direct objects may follow the clause-final verbs, but this would follow if we assume that free relatives exhibit similar extraposition behavior as the regular relative clauses with an overt antecedent (here: iedereen and hetgeen) in (26). However, this suggestion leaves unexplained why (25c) is unacceptable with the preposition op stranded in preverbal position.

Example 26
a. ? dat iedereen gek is [rel-clause die dit leest].
  that  everyone  crazy  is  who  this  reads
  'that everyone who reads this is mad.'
b. dat Jan iedereen prijst [rel-clause die hij bewondert].
  that  Jan everyone  praises  who  he  admires
  'that Jan praises everyone whom he admires.'
c. dat Jan op hetgeen wacht [rel-clause dat Els te zeggen heeft].
  that  Jan  for the.things  waits  that  Els to say  has
  'that Jan is waiting for the things that Els has to say.'

We conclude from the discussion that free relatives are nominal in nature and should therefore not be included in our discussion of argument clauses. We refer to Section N3.3.2.2 for a discussion of free relatives.

References:
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2005Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2005Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Bennis, Hans1986Gaps and dummiesDordrechtForis Publications
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haider, Hubert1985V-second in GermanHaider, Hubert & Prinzhorn, Martin (eds.)Verb second phenomena in Germanic languagesDordrecht/RivertonForis Publications49-75
  • Hoekstra, Eric & Zwart, Jan-Wouter1994De structuur van CP. Functionele projecties voor topics en vraagwoorden in het NederlandsSpektator23191-212
  • Sturm, Arie1996Over functionele projectiesNederlandse Taalkunde1191-206
  • Zwart, Jan-Wouter & Hoekstra, Eric1997Weer functionele projectiesNederlandse Taalkunde2121-132
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